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by Kirsteen Paterson
08 December 2022
FMQs: Scottish patient waits two years for cancer treatment

Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs

FMQs: Scottish patient waits two years for cancer treatment

A Scottish patient has waited two years to start treatment for cancer amidst rising waiting times, the Scottish Parliament has heard.

Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said another patient has waited more than six months to begin breast cancer treatment, while one has waited 18 months for his prostate cancer treatment. 

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar asked the First Minister "how have you let it get so bad" on child and adolescent mental health waiting times after a primary seven pupil dropped off a treatment list after an initial appointment in 2020.

Referred to as "Charlie", the child has yet to receive a diagnosis.

The revelations were made during First Minister's Questions, when Nicola Sturgeon said there is "significant work to do" but defended the performance of NHS Scotland.

"I am very willing to look at the particular circumstances of individual cases, but it remains the case, even with all of the challenges of the pandemic, that the median waiting time for a patient with cancer to start treatment, once the decision to treat has been made, is measured in days, not weeks and certainly not months," she said.

However, she said clinical circumstances and "sometimes, yes, failings in the NHS mean that it takes longer".

Sarwar said there are "thousands of other children" like Charlie "left abandoned" and accused Sturgeon of "not listening".

"Experiences like Charlie's are not acceptable and I don't know all of the circumstances, so I'm willing to look into that," she responded. 

"And I'm not standing here and saying Charlie will be the only young person, far from it, in the country that has that kind of experience."

However, she said progress is being made and mental health spending has almost doubled in cash terms since the SNP took office, stating that "we will continue to support record expenditure across our National Health Service and ensure appropriate expenditure for mental health services".

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